What Will Apple Do in VR?

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If you’ve paid much attention to tech rumors for 2017, you’ve probably noticed there’s a heavy focus on virtual reality (VR) again. Much of the conversation seems to revolve around what types of experiences we’ll see the most on the mainstream headsets.

There’s a lot of talk that film and virtual reality will start to blend in meaningful ways over the course of the year. VR has long been a feature of the Sundance Film Festival in that there have been small, gimmicky demonstrations, but reports from this year’s festival indicate signs of an industry that’s starting to grow up and get serious. That means that we’re starting to see VR films inching closer to full-length, feature projects. There’s no telling how much the movie industry will embrace VR, but one thing people expect to see in 2017 is increased flirtation between the two.

There’s also a lot of attention being paid to potential trends in gaming as the year moves along. There are some who believe that casino gaming in particular could move toward virtual reality in a big and meaningful way. For some time now, casino platforms across the internet have boasted their own form of virtual reality by way of offering “live dealer” experiences for common games. And it’s not just about poker, either. As one write-up of online baccarat formats explained, this game can also involve a live dealer streaming online. It’s also true for blackjack and roulette arcades. With the casino genre already embracing this type of “reality,” VR doesn’t seem like much of a reach. So casino games are pretty logical when people are looking to predict the gaming landscape over the course of the coming year.

But more than different types of entertainment or different genres of gaming, one other factor is looming over the year in VR: That’s the question of what Apple will do and when it will happen.

With Samsung having gotten in on the VR phenomenon early, and Google’s new Pixel smartphone coming equipped with its own Daydream View VR device, Apple looks to be lagging behind its competition in a meaningful way for the first time in recent memory. There would seem to be almost no way the tech titan will allow this to be the case for much longer, which has led many to assume that there will be some sort of Apple VR device (or at least an announcement) in the coming months.

Of course, it could be that that assumption is wrong. Some have noted that Apple CEO Tim Cook prefers augmented reality to VR, and might be inclined to simply skip this particular tech trend. If that proves to be the case, it will be up to app developers and third party manufacturers to figure out ways for us to enjoy our iPhones in VR. In that spirit, a relatively new headset called the Bridge, by Occipital, got a nice write-up as the VR device that Apple users have been waiting for. This headset can be currently purchased for $399, placing it in the middle range of virtual reality devices.

However, those who are interested in seeing what Apple itself will do to embrace this trend may want to hold off on purchasing another headset for the time being. While Cook has made his views known and there’s no confirmation of an Apple project, the company has filed patents and hired VR experts, which would seem to make some kind of release is down the road. That’s about all the detail there is at this point, but with Apple also expected to unveil the iPhone 8 this fall to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the device, a lot of people will be eyeing the same season for a possible Apple VR headset.

We’ll just have to wait and see, but Apple can’t afford to ignore virtual reality forever.

Article Contributed By Kyle Manning:

Kyle Manning is a tech enthusiast and freelance writer. He hopes to start an online tech and gaming magazine in the near future.